tv The Ed Show MSNBC February 16, 2013 3:00am-4:00am EST
ey do. and it may be dangerous for society as a whole to allow this when it comes to gun buying, but there row visit. one bet you can make on america we are still a cowboy country. we like to get around in our own cars, live in our separate houses, read whatever, see whatever, pretty much do whatever. and the difference here is doing harm to others. two people getting married doesn't hurt someone else's marriage, nor does it reduce its reverence or love. having a gun in the wrong hands, freedom for that person can mean death for lots of others. and that is where the desire for freedom jumps the tracks. that's where our cowboy urge need wyatt earp to come in and clean up dodge city. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the ed show" with ed schultz starts right now. good evening, americans, and welcome to "the ed show" from new york. meteors crashing into earth. congress goes on vacation again? and elizabeth warren is the new sheriff in town. all that and rachel maddow joins us tonight. buckle up. this is "the ed show." let's get to work. just like the meteor slamming into russia, elizabeth warren is already banging heads in the senate.
>> the question i really want to ask is about how tough you are. >> we'll show you how the new sheriff of wall street is outclassing her fellow freshmen, and how the new cop on the beat means trouble for big banks. ten years after george w. bush dragged the country into war in iraq, and explosive new documentary narrated by rachel maddow details the trail of deception like never before. rachel joins me to preview the film tonight. plus, the big congressional panel on john boehner's decision to go on vacation before we go off another cliff. it was the biggest meteor blast in 100 years. so how did we know about an asteroid the size of a swimming pool but not a meteorite the size of a house? good to have you with us tonight, folks. thanks for watching. progressives finally have
something to be hopeful about when it comes to congress. now, the 113th congress kicked off in a pretty disappointing fashion. there could have been meaningful filibuster reform. there was a way around the gridlock. but of course, harry reid caved. that's another story in itself. so nothing has really changed. all you have to do is look at the chuck hagel situation in the senate to see just how bad everything is right now. but i want you to imagine liberals, just imagine what it would be like if we had 60 senators like this. >> i'm really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial. that just seems wrong to me. >> it sure does. newly elected senator from massachusetts elizabeth warren is doing what she promised to do. she is ready to lead the way on accountability for the financial industry, and for good reason. you see, the federal reserve says the 2008 financial collapse cost this country 38.8% of its net worth. despite the massive fraud and
recklessness of the banks, the number of executives prosecuted for this crisis zero. before today, there is no accountability. now, the frank/dodd financial regulation bill was watered down and not fully implemented. senator warren used her first banking committee hearing to take on the regulators who were supposed to be enforcing the laws. instead, they take some money and turned a blind eye. >> i know there have been some landmark settlements, but we face some very special issues with big financial institutions. if they can break the law and drag in billions in profit, and then turn around and settle, paying out of those profits, it isn't much incentive to follow the law. >> settlements without trial also mean no testimony from banking witnesses. there is no way to actually figure out really what went on. warren put the regulators on the spot. >> the question i really want to
ask is about how tough you are, about how much leverage you really have in these settlements. and what i'd like to know is tell me a little bit about the last few times you've taken the biggest financial institutions on wall street all the way to a trial. >> ooh, this ought to be good. please proceed, government regulators. >> we've actually had a fairly -- a fair number of consent orders. we do not have to bring people to trial or -- >> well, i appreciate you say you don't have to bring them to trial. my question is when did you bring them to trial? >> we have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals. >> and senator warren wasn't done making her point. >> we look at the distinction
between what we could get if we go the trial and what we could get if we don't. >> i appreciate that that's what everybody does. so the question i'm really asking is can you identify when you last took the wall street banks to trial? >> um, i will have to get back to you with the specific information. >> i think they all need water on that panel. what do you think? the government has acted cowardly when it comes to the big banks, no doubt about it. deals are cut and civil cases get settled out of court. the banks don't have to change any of their behavior. you and i get stuck, or could get stuck. warren wants to stop this entire cycle, and the banks aren't real happy about it. politico received a number of anonymous comments from banking executives slamming the senator from massachusetts. they called her questions shameless grandstanding. she should act accordingly if she wants to be taken seriously. one said warren is an extreme
fringe freshman senator. you see, folks, these fat cats, they are running scared. it's a far cry from what senator dick durbin said back in 2009 on "the ed show." >> you believe the banks own the senate and you can't get this done? >> i will tell you that at this point in time, it's an uphill battle for me to get 60 votes in the senate. >> senators like elizabeth warren make it a lot easier for dick durbin to get the momentum he needs to stop this behavior. this is what the 2012 elect was all about, wasn't it? now compare senator warren with her most -- with the most talked about counterpart on the other side of the aisle and what he is working on. >> it may be that he spoke at radical or extreme groups or anti-israel groups and accepted financial compensation. we don't know. >> oh, yeah, senator ted cruz of texas. he is too busy playing joe mccarthy these days. elizabeth warren is fighting for the people who were screwed by the rich bankers. now, which one do you want on your side?
and this is how we have to think, liberals. just think what it would be like if we had 60 senators like elizabeth warren. that's what this election was all about. it's a marathon. it's not a sprint. we have more elections coming up, no doubt about it. but the behavior of the republicans right now, and what they're focused on is not the folks who got the shaft back when the market crashed. get your cell phones out. i want to know what you think. tonight's question. will senator warren get congress to hold the big banks accountable for the financial crisis? text "a" for yes, text b for no to 67622. you can always go to our blog and leave a comment at ed.msnbc.com. of course we'll bring results later on in the show. i am joined tonight by martin smith, producer for "frontline." and david cay johnston also with us, a pulitzer prize winning journalist. gentlemen, great to have you with us tonight. martin, you first. you covered this story for "frontline." is there any chance that a senator that aggressive, continually asking questions and keeping it in the media could make a difference? >> well, it's better than no senators asking those questions there is a possibility.
but this is a conversation that has been in the background for some years now. this is a conversation that it's long overdue that somebody put very simple questions to the regulators. you know, she did not tell them what they should be doing. she asked a very remarkably simple question. tell me about the last time you took a wall street bank to a trial. and they were incredibly flat-footed. in the past, there have been some efforts. but in the early days after 2009, 2010, there was the sense that, you know, the justice department is working on this and it's going to take time. but nothing happened. >> david, do these out-of-court settlements and penalties have any impact whatsoever changing the behavior of the banks? >> oh, they certainly have the impact of saying it's profitable to lie, cheat, and steal.
i mean, we know there were fabricated documents to justify loans. there were lies made to the investors who purchased the securities which in many cases were public pension funds. and there is plenty of grounds to view criminal actions. shh she wasn't even asking about criminal actions. she was simply asking taking someone to civil trial. >> she is the talking about simple bank operations, not being aggressive from a judiciary standpoint, but being aggressive from an operational standpoint to get them on the record just about how they operate. and they were very coy about it. oh, by the way, i got to get back to you on that. martin, that just underscores everything you did in your documentary, doesn't it? >> elisse walter was incredibly flat-footed on that answer. in july she was a commissioner at the s.e.c., had taken a banker to court on a civil case. it was thrown out. he was mid-level. the jury says we don't want these mid-level guys. on a remarkable note, they said it should be executives who are
being held to account. it was remarkable that she couldn't even come up with the one trial that they had gone forward with. >> your thoughts, david cay, on the justice department. have they done their job? >> no, absolutely not. you know, last year, bill black, the regulator who was responsible for a thousand felony convictions of high-level people in the s&l crisis was supposed to testify in congress. he came to washington, and the morning of the testimony they said they didn't want to hear him. the importance of elizabeth warren is she is going to be in a position to ask the questions that haven't been asked. as martin said, simple questions. >> here is senator warren as she explained the impact of bringing cases to trial during the hearing. >> there are district attorneys and u.s. attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. >> martin, why is the government
afraid of going to trial against the banks? she points out they're too big to go on trial. that's pretty much it, isn't it? >> that's absolutely what it seems to be. we asked. i asked lanny breuer, chief of the criminal division at the justice department about some comments he made about deferred prosecution agreements that he said that he had lost sleep at night, worried about the consequences, the collateral damage that would result from charging a bank with criminal fraud. so, you know, if there is -- if we need an admission that these banks are too big to fail and too big to jail, that was it. >> what impact in dollars could actual regulation have on the banks? i mean, they're going to make a profit. they have always made a profit. but this is the greedy fast lane. what impact could it have? >> the important issue, ed, we
have artificially depressed interest rates to prop up these banks. the bankers today were telling politico and the "new york times" deal book, oh, we're perfectly robust and healthy there is nothing wrong with our books. yeah, because you're getting a massive subsidy from the federal government that is effectively transferring money from savers to prop up these banks. that's the real impact to our economy. that's why pension funds are in trouble. it's a real fundamental problem here. >> but we can put on the table both you experts. we've got a senator from massachusetts who is should we say unspoiled and ready to do the work of the people on the banking committee. fair enough? >> absolutely. >> it's going to be fun. martin smith, david cay johnston, great to have you with us tonight. remember to answer tonight's question there at the bottom of the screen. share your thoughts with us on twitter and at ed show on facebook. we want to know what you think. ten years ago, the bush administration lied us into a war. rachel maddow and david corn are here to preview their new
hans blix reported that his teams found no weapons inspection and sees sign iraq is starting to cooperate. in a further slap at powell, blix contradicted u.s. intelligence that issue has hidden weapons interest the inspectors. >> in no case have we seen evidence that the iraqi inspectors knew in advance that the inspectors were coming. >> that, believe it or not, happened ten years ago this week. ten years since the u.n. weapons inspector hans blix told the u.n. his team searched for weapons in iraq. they didn't come up with anything. it was ten years ago a massive anti-war global protest was being held with millions of people taking to the streets from new york to sydney. none of it ultimately mattered.
our government was determined to go to war. the bush administration was basically propping up anyone with any kind of credibility on the matters of national security to go out and make the case. we now know there was no case to war with iraq. but we are hearing from key players now. the landscape is really changing on this story. for the first time we're hearing people come forward about how the bush administration forge ahead with their plan, and how they got away with it. it's all part of a new msnbc documentary airing this monday night, 9:00 eastern time narrated by our own rachel maddow called "hubris: selling the iraq war." it's based on a book by the same name, michael isikoff and david corn. in this excerpt, vice president dick cheney makes his case in a speech to veterans of foreign wars. centcom commander anthony zinni was there and said he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
>> simply stated, there is no doubt that saddam hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. >> i had a seat at the stage next to the lectern where he was speaking, and i literally bolted at that. >> with our help, a liberated iraq can be a great nation once again. >> vice president's dick cheney speech is the opening salvo of the bush administration's effort to sell to the american people what white house insiders call "the product". >> thank you very much. >> it was a shock. it was total shock. i couldn't believe the vice president was saying this, and doing work with the cia on iraq wmd, through all the briefs i heard at langley, i never saw one piece of credible evidence
that there was an ongoing program. and that's when i began to believe they're getting serious about this. they want to go into iraq. >> joining me now, rachel maddow, narrater of the documentary "hubris: selling the iraq war," which premiers monday at 9:00 p.m. eastern on this network. and david corn of mother jones magazine, who co-authored the book. great to have both of you with us. >> thanks, ed. >> rachel, the people coming forward going on record will change a lot of people who were thinking, well, we really did the right thing. >> two things have been happening in the ten years since we were led into this war from the political right. and one is the idea that it wasn't that much of a mistake. you see that still happening in politics this past week in capitol hill, right? people defending the iraq war as if it were the right thing to do. but also, this idea that we were all in bed together, that we all made the same wrong decision together as a nation, that there was no dissent, and that we all believed that saddam had weapons of mass destruction. i'm so glad you played that footage of what was going on ten years ago today with the global worldwide protests about going into ire. well didn't convince the war. they didn't convince enough people in the united states to call it a nation going to war.
but because it was our war leading the deception campaign, we went. and i don't think we've appreciated how big a deal that was for us as a country, how big a deal that was for the world. we've been so close to it for so long, it's ten years. it's time to step back and realize what that was. >> will it change how we view confrontations in the future? >> i think it already is changing that. you see people right now, even in the obama administration, leaking stuff to the press trying to make it seem like this is stuff going on with wmds in syria, which means we have to go to war with syria. you know what? the intelligence has not been confirmed. we're not going to run with that. i do think there is a higher bar. i do think we elected barack obama in part because he was on the right side of the iraq war debate. but the revisionist history on why we went to iraq and who got us there, that is an active campaign right now. >> david corn, what have we learned? >> well, i think rachel is right.
the bar has been raised, because we learned that the government pulled what larry wilkinson in the film, he was chief of staff to colin powell at the time. he calls it a hoax. that's a pretty big word to use. that the campaign to convince this nation to go to war, a war that led to the loss of almost 5,000 american lives and over probably 100,000 civilian iraqi lives was a hoax. so i think we learned to be careful when people tell us there is a threat at hand. but at the same time to be a little less optimistic about it, a lot of people who got us into the war, a lot of the neo con drum majorettes and cheerleaders, dick cheney and others, when they come out today and say something, they're still accorded a fair degree of respect. they haven't been laughed out of town or tar and feathered and chased away because of what they have done. there hasn't been a full accounting or full consequences applied. and so that means, as rachel points out in the film itself, that this could happen again under another set of circumstances in the not too distant future. >> let me tell you, when i was in high school, the vietnam war was raging. and when the war ended, we all
thought, well, gosh, as a country, we'll never do that again. guess what? that's why this documentary is so critically important for the generation following us to consume this and to understand how we were lied into this. what about that, rachel? >> i think, you know, ed, one of the things that ends up being important is the way that we describe to one another, even if it's not formal history, just our oral history about how we describe that as a country. and i think when you get down to the case that was made about why we had to go, it turns out that it was, as david puts it, a hoax. the case about why we had to go turned out not to be true. it was maintained to us as if it were true. and that has to be seen as an original sin for why that war ended up being a bad idea. we all respect the people who serve. we all thank and frankly love the troops who went there, because their country asked them to. but the grounds on which they were asked to go were false. and that has to be the way that we tell this story forever, so we don't do it again. >> and david, the media role in this, there was a lot of
promotion, a lot of flag-waving, and not critical questions. or is that an overstatement? >>, no not at all, ed. at the time, i was raising questions about the intelligence, you know, ten years ago to today. and it was a very lonely position. even liberal columnists were out there going along with this. and "the new york times" with reporting by judy miller was basically reinforcing the propaganda from the administration. it became sort of an echo chamber between the administration and a lot of voices in the media, many of whom who have still not apologized and still have their very well compensated perches in our media political culture. so this stuff can't happen -- or let me put it another way, ed. it's much more difficult to pull off a hoax like this if you have skeptical or just good reporters out there putting this stuff to hard questions. >> all right.
>> and that didn't happen at the time. that made it a lot easier for dick cheney and george w. bush to make the statements like we just heard dick cheney say that had nothing to do with the truth. >> all right. rachel, looking forward to your show at 9:00 tonight after this one. david corn, thanks for joining us. appreciate it. "hubris: selling the iraq war" premiers monday night 9:00 p.m. eastern here on msnbc. john mccain lets the cat out of the bag on the real reason he is blocking chuck hagel. that's next. while john boehner is working on his tan or his golf game or tee time or whatever, our congressional panel is here working tonight. keep it right here. we're right back. introducing olay fresh effects' unstoppable skincare!
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welcome back to "the ed show." tonight i bring you a rare moment of transparency in politics. senator john mccain went off script yesterday when he admitted republicans put grudges ahead of our national security when they filibustered the nomination of chuck hagel for defense secretary. >> to be honest with you, neil, it goes back to there is a lot of ill will towards senator hagel because when he was a republican, he attacked president bush mercilessly, at one point said he was the worst president since herbert hoover, said that the surge was the worst blunder since the vietnam war, which is nonsense. and was very anti his own party and people. people don't forget that. you can disagree, but if you're disagreeable, people don't
forget that. >> all right. let's break this down. >> to be honest with you, neil, it goes back to there is a lot of ill will towards senator hagel because when he was a republican -- >> because when he was a republican. did you catch that? when he was a republican. because chuck hagel lost his republican card when he didn't just blindly march in lockstep with the republican party. what is next? >> he attacked president bush mercilessly, at one point said he was the worst president since herbert hoover. >> well, what are the numbers? george w. bush did leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in the history of the country with a final approval rating of 22% there is a reason. >> said that the surge was the worst blunder since the vietnam
war, which is nonsense. >> hagel's only mistake here is his refusal to be a head-nodding warhawk. hagel has been to war. he knows what it's all about. he is a two-time purple heart recipient who served our country in vietnam. and he had the nerve, think about that, to go against the republicans. he had the nerve to question a surge that would cost our country over a thousand american lives. we keep hearing about a republican effort to rebrand the party. but all i'm seeing is the same unprecedented obstruction. this is the first time a filibuster has been used against a defense secretary nominee. and it all boils down to a personal grudge? this is pretty vindictive politics, isn't it? senator mccain, whatever happened to country first? the republicans are poised to shut down government. republicans are poised to let sequestration go forward. >> the country is on the verge of a disaster, and republicans are taking a vacation.
the big congressional panel weighs in on today's big sequester developments. and we knew about an asteroid the size of a swimming pool that sailed past earth. how did we ever miss this massive meteor exploding in russia? we'll have all the answers from all the angles ahead. thanks for watching tonight. a massive budget crisis is looming. and the only people who can fix it have gone on vacation. feel like you're a taxpayer who is getting screwed right now? $85 billion in spending cuts are
thanks for watching tonight. a massive budget crisis is looming. and the only people who can fix it have gone on vacation. feel like you're a taxpayer who is getting screwed right now? $85 billion in spending cuts are scheduled to take effect on march 1. these are brutal cuts to defense, head start, food safety, mental health service,
nasa, and small business assistance, and disaster relief. that's just to name a few. the list goes on and on. with the looming deadline. and every american depending on congress to come up with a plan. here is what the republicans did today. congressional members. congressional members took a half day and left capitol hill this afternoon and said we're out of here. congress is in recess for the next ten days and will not address the budget crisis until february 25th. every house democrat and four republicans voted against the recess, and it was obvious leader nancy pelosi was frustrated when a reporter asked just how much more is she willing to compromise. >> i appreciate your question and the good faith in which it has been offered. the republicans are poised to shut down government. the republicans are poised to elect sequestration go forward, which is -- sequestration, you
know what that word means? what it means to the american people is unemployment. no jobs. republican party in the congress is dominated by anti-government ideologues, and they will forever, ever want to reduce taxes on special interest, make cuts in the education of our children and the care of our seniors and the rest because they do not believe in government. and bless their hearts, they act upon their beliefs, and that's what they believe. >> speaking of beliefs, 106 house democrats are now asking the president not to approve any cuts to social security, medicare, or medicaid. let's turn to our congressional panel tonight with three of the 106 democrats who were signing on to that letter to the white house today. congressman john garamendi is with us tonight from california. also congresswoman sheila jacksolee of texas and jerry nadler.
great to have all three of you with us tonight. how serious is the threat to medicare, medicaid and social security? congresswoman jackson, over the next 13 day, it's a very critical time. your thoughts. >> absolutely. you know, i was on the floor of the house and making a comment about this pending tragedy, and indicated that those who have social security and medicaid and medicare, they actually earned it. they paid taxes, and they actually earned it for their time of need, for social security and medicare. and i was blasted by those who said earned it, well, i'm concerned because they did earn it. they worked and they deserved it. and now with this pending crisis, we know that as sequester comes and there are across-the-board cuts, and there is an attitude of looking for any dollar they can find, there is rumor that what the republicans are looking for is not to address solvency for social security, but really to end it as we know it, to cut medicare and to cut made
mediterranean cade. so i see it, ed, as a very serious proposition, and the letter we sent to the president was to hold the ground on anything that would jeopardize social security for the american people, cpi and all of that. >> so congresswoman, that really prompted the letter, these kind of rumors that they're going for the jugular on the big three, and they really want to privatize this stuff. >> that's all they talk about. >> john garamendi, how do you get a solution when you've got an attitude like that? >> it's going to be very, very difficult. we have to find the middle ground. we do have a proposal that we put forward. it's basically 50/50 and tax breaks for those companies that don't need it and make wise cuts not in the area of social security or medicare or medicaid, but in other programs that are clearly less efficient, ineffective, or just not needed now. we can do that. the republicans are absolutely refusing to allow such a measure to come to the floor of the house for a vote. and quite possibly the senate
will also require 60 votes, and the republicans will stop it. they're headed towards this another manufactured disaster. >> how many jobs, congressman nadler? >> well, the sequestration -- the cbo estimates is the sequestration would destroy between 700,000 and a million jobs. we've cut the budget deficit from 2009. it was over 10% of the economy of the gdp. this year it's%. next year it's going to be 5%. we cut it in half, the fastest reduction in deficits since world war ii, and frankly, it's too fast. we should not be doing any cut at this point because cuts will cost us jobs. and the real problem we is a jobs crisis, not a deficit crisis. >> one word from all of you. do you think she could walk us back into a recession if this were to happen? >> without a doubt. >> no question. >> house speaker boehner does not sound like he is willing to compromise. here is what he said yesterday.
>> on the sequester will be in effect until there are cuts in reforms that put us on a path to balance the budget over the next ten years. >> sheila jackson lee, how do you deal with that? >> you know, ed, i don't know why we can't be truth-sayers, if you will. we've already cut over a trillion dollars. congress has already cut over a trillion dollars. the federal employees have already taken $103 billion out of their salaries and contributed to the deficit. the economy is growing. the president has indicated we have an opportunity for innovation and growth. and i believe that that is our pathway forward. if the speaker does not want to come back to the table of compromise and address how we can both bring down the debt and grow the economy, then all we're going to be facing is a recession. >> sure. >> and that seems to be what their direction is, that they're
willing to slash and burn as opposed to finding the right pathway of securing revenue which we have attempted to do and balance and bring down the deficit. and they won't do anything with revenue. nothing at all. >> john garamendi, what is the sense of urgency here? what are you doing on vacation? >> well, we've been told not to be in congress. speaker boehner controls the agenda, controls the calendar for the house of representatives and he sent us home. democrats, i think all of us today voted not to go home, but rather to stay and work next week. and he said no. >> all right. president obama was in chicago today he is pushing hard for something to get done on gun violence in this congress. congressman nadler, what are your hopes? >> well, i think it's too much to hope that we'll get the
sandy legislation. beyond, that it's just been marking time. we need to put these things and put them up for a vote and see where it goes. >> congressman john garamendi, congresswoman sheila jackson lee and congressman jerry nadler, thanks for being on the panel on the "ed show." appreciate it so much. earlier today an asteroid the size of an olympic swimming pool just missed the earth. i'll show you what a smaller meteor did in russia this
they gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care. they gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us. and that's what we honor today. >> president obama wiped tears away as he honored the six educators killed in the sandy hook elementary school shooting today at the white house. and many of you are talking about it on social media. on facebook susan noble writes every one of them deserved that honor. they are true hero. president obama is a good man and a good father and he does care about all who have died because of guns. and real men cry. go to our facebook page right now and join the conversation. and don't forget to like "the ed show" when you're there. tonight i asked will senator warren of massachusetts get congress to hold the big banks accountable?
and we are back. when i see the videotape of this, all i can say is i wish i was there. i wish i could have seen this. this scene roughly 900 miles east of russia this morning. a ten-ton meteor streaked through the sky with a blinding flash at a speed of 33,000 miles per hour. the meteor shattered into pieces at about 25 miles above the ground and created a massive sonic boom, startling many russians. >> literally hundreds of people caught this on tape.
the shockwave damaged an estimated 3,000 buildings in western siberia, shattering roughly one million square miles of glass. one piece of the meteor is thought to have crashed into a frozen lake, leaving this hole in the ice. in other space news, an asteroid the size of an olympic swimming pool passed right past the earth earlier today. it was the closest recorded pass by an asteroid ever, closer than some of the satellites up there. we're going to have a whole lot more on the asteroid and the russian meteor, next. we have our deep space panel standing by. they'll bring us all the crazy details of today's out-of-this-world event. stay tuned. you're watching "the ed show" on msnbc.
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and bursting into a fireball. i wish i could have seen it. meteors are usually small and burn up completely as they hurdle towards the earth's surface. we even have a nickname for them. called shooting stars. today's meteor seemed much more imperfect and was captured by dozens of amateur videos. one thousand people were injured. most of them suffering cuts from flying glass. the damage and the injuries were the end result of a sonic boom. >> the blast was strong enough to blow out windows, doors, a
local school teacher said that kind of light doesn't happen in life, only at the end of the world. city administrators said we thought an airplane had crashed. children were sent home, and there was a general state of confusion until local officials said that there was no threat to human life. a zinc factory seems to have suffered the greatest damage. part of the wall crumbling. 3,000 buildings were damaged. all this from a meteor the size of a bus. joining me tonight derrick pitts, chief astronomer at the franklin institute in philadelphia. also with us tonight joining us is hakeem oluseyi, a science channel expert and a professor at florida institute of technology. kind of a different day at the office, wouldn't you say? >> a great day. >> and exciting too, because we'll learn a lot from this, i would imagine. derrick, how rare is this meteor both in size and in impact? >> if we're talking about
meteor, ed, what we find is meteors of this size coming this far down into the earth's atmosphere are actually on the rare side, something like this might happen every 50 to 100 years. whereas the typical shooting stars that most people see in the evening sky we can see ten of those per hour on any regular clear night. and a meteor shower might show as many as 120. so something like this actually is quite rare to be seeing. >> is the speed, is the size pretty normal for shooting stars? does this -- we just happened to catch this one on tape, the russian citizens. >> well, in fact, the way we really ought to classify this is more like a small asteroid than it is a meteorite. this is an object that seems to come from the asteroid belt. so it is actually on the large side for something that we would see, although not really that large for an asteroid itself, even a small asteroid. but it's the interaction with the earth's atmosphere, what it could possibly do if it strikes the surface of the earth. what it did just passing through territory's atmosphere that really makes the difference.
>> hakeem, address the noise, the noise factor, the sonic boom to the effect of a bomb. >> yes. so if you have an object that moves through a medium like the air at faster than the speed of sound, then what happens is that the air molecules don't know how to get out of the way, right? so if you look at a boat or a ship passing by through the water, it leaves a wake. and so any object that passes through the atmosphere is also going to leave a wake of pressure waves. so what happens is when you move faster than the speed of sound, the molecules in front don't get out of the way until that pressure and that energy build up in front, and it leaves a cone that we call the mock cone. and when that cone passes over your place on the ground, that's when you have a sonic boom. and that's all that built-up energy that is passing over you. >> and meanwhile, we have an asteroid about the size of a football field passing by the earth today. hakeem, how rare is that? and, you know, how lucky were we? >> well, you know, if you ask about things from space hitting earth, it's incredibly common,
right? something like two tons of material from space fall to earth every day. but if you compare how frequently things occur as a function of their size, then as they get bigger, they become rarer. so if you look at events that are big enough to, say, wipe out a city, you may expect once per century to come to earth. and the latest one that we know of is an object that hit in russia in 1908, known as the tunguska event. it's common, but not as common that we should be concerned. >> the asteroid we saw today, the thing we really have to be concerned about is the fact that the orbit of this asteroid actually intersected with the orbit of the earth. and what we want to avoid is having the earth and the extraordinary intersecting at the same point at the same time. there are lots of asteroids throughout. this isn't the only one. many cross the earth's asteroid.
it's just a question whether the earth and the asteroid can be on the same path at the same time. we hope to avoid that. it will definitely ruin your day. >> derrick, how did we miss the meteorite? >> there are two instances in which we can detect these objects. in the case of the asteroid that flew past the earth 17,000 miles away, we could detect that because we're looking at the asteroid against a dark night sky. that's how these things are detected. mostly optically at night, using a telescope surveying the sky. the meteor, though, the small asteroid came out of the daytime sky. so it's against a bright sky lit by the sun. so that makes it very, very difficult to see. and also, the small size, that didn't help us either. >> hakeem, what are the chances of us seeing something like that, i mean in a lifetime? how rare is this? >> it's really small. if this were to happen in the daytime in the bright daylight in an over the ocean, which is most of the earth, no one would